San Francisco Breathes Sigh of Relief: NYT

The New York Times feels its readers need to be informed about how San Francisco is for a week without Burners. Mellower and more peaceful, it seems.

SAN FRANCISCO — As the annual Burning Man festival wrapped up over the holiday weekend, thousands of weary festivalgoers were somewhere in Nevada packing up yurts, washing off body paint and dreading their eventual re-entry to the real world. Here, particularly in the city’s rapidly gentrifying Mission District, their neighbors were dreading something else: the moment the “Burners” come home.

Pride festival, 2012

Pride festival, 2012

Over the last few years, Burning Man — the mass camping trip/rave that participants have deemed indescribable to anyone who hasn’t attended –- has become a veritable staycation for San Franciscans who don’t attend. They say restaurants have more tables, parking spots are plentiful and yoga classes are extra chill.

…”I have no scientific proof that reservations go down, but it’s pop wisdom in San Francisco that anything is easier this week: The bars are less crowded, it’s easier to park.”

Sadly, it’s not clear if there actually is scientific proof to support the Burning Man exodus. The event is big –- it has attracted as many as 70,000 people –- but even if half of those came from San Francisco (which seems unlikely), that would be a tiny portion of the city’s 837,000 residents.

At The New York Times’s request, data scientists from the reservation service OpenTable played with reams of San Francisco reservation data to see if there was a Burning Man lull, but couldn’t find much.

But people in the Mission swear their neighborhood cleared out for the week. The Mission is heavily populated with young tech workers. On weekday mornings, fleets of private tech buses makes non-tech residents feel as if they live next to a high-end Greyhound station.

“Last night I drove down Valencia and did not have any bikers almost side swipe the car as they tried to own the road. After, we dropped into a restaurant…and got a seat. This morning, I made it across the city in half the time as usual. It just seems mellower and more peaceful in this city; it seems like it used to in the olden days. Thank you Burning Man, for giving me this week to enjoy the city I fell in love with decades ago.”

…“With Burning Man we kind of see a mass exodus of a lot of regulars from the Mission area and we’ll get a little bit of a lull, but then all of a sudden we have these people we’ve never seen. Almost half the business we’ve had this week are people who have never been in before,” said Adam Dulye, the chef/owner of the Monk’s Kettle and the nearby Abbot’s Cellar. “People will walk into the bar and order a martini or a Manhattan and it’s like ‘Uhh, we have beer.’”

… “We should do like a Burning Man beer that’s not at Burning Man, just to drive business. ‘Didn’t go to Burning Man? Come get this beer.’”

Read the full story here.

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